Derek fulfils dream to publish special book about Linnets’ history
IN 2018, it will be 100 years since the birth of Runcorn AFC.
To coincide with the ‘centenary’ of the Linnets, one of their most fervent fans (also the former long-serving chairman of its successor club) is set to publish a superb new souvenir booklet charting the history and evolution of one of the town’s biggest sporting brands.
In writing Once A Linnet, Always A Linnet, Derek Greenwood recounts the rise and fall of Runcorn AFC and how the Linnets’ name has lived on through the formation of a new club owned and run by its fans.
The book’s launch this month, just ahead of the anniversary year, will kick-off a series of events organised by a centenary committee, to celebrate the landmark.
It is well worth celebrating too – as something which would not have been achieved without the determination of the Linnets’ faithful down the years and particularly in the summer of 2006 when the final whistle could have been blown.
When Runcorn AFC announced that with no permanent home after the sale of its Canal Street home and ill-fated ground shares at Widnes and Prescot, they did not have the funds to continue from the end of the 2005-06 season, it looked to be game over.
But tradition would not be allowed to die and after fans persuaded officials of the North West Counties League that they could not only make a go – but also a success – of a follow-on club under the umbrella of an existing if remodelled Supporters Trust, a new chapter was opened.
Beginning life in Northwich, as tenants of Witton Albion for its first four years, the phoenix club achieved promotion at the first attempt and has with backing from Halton Borough Council and The Football Foundation been back in its homeland (in the New Town district of Murdishaw) for the last seven.
A new £1.3m purpose-built clubhouse is set to be unveiled next month – the existing building, lovingly converted from a one-time recreation club gym, is poised for imminent demolition to make way for a new retail and leisure development.
The Millbank Linnets Stadium is headquarters to a first team with an average attendance of 300+, a titlewinning Ladies team and around 400 junior players.
Examining the happenings and events which have shaped or checked the progress of the Linnets, old and new, the 72-page booklet offers a factual, nostalgic and emotional look back at the highs and lows which affect all sporting institutions.
But it is not a sterile retrospective account, based purely on fact as Derek, now one of Runcorn Linnets’ five vice-presidents after more than 10 years as its chairman, has brought the triumphs, trials and tribulations to life.
With photographs, newspaper cuttings, rare match day programmes, archive material, memories and statistics, the A4 publication not only charts a timeline but tells the story in words and pictures of personalities who have been the lifeblood of Linnets – great managers, prominent club officials, leading players and well-known supporters.
Derek said: “Runcorn Football Club has been part of our lives for as long as I can remember although the club was already 30 years old when I was born. I always promised myself that when I retired and had some time, I would try to explain why that should be.
“This is therefore, not an attempt to write a history of the club as such but more share through my scrapbook why the club meant so much to me, my family and so many fans I have met over the years.” ● The booklet is £10 and every penny from sales will go directly to Runcorn Linnets FC. There is an opportunity to purchase the booklet through the club website at www. runcornlinnetsfc.co.uk/ oncealinnetalwaysalinnet ●